Register of Corporal Punishment
JRGS Alumni Society

The Croydon Archives:
Register of Corporal Punishment 1952-78

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The register is held by Croydon Borough Archives as a publicly open document reference SCH63/3. None of the pages listing the names of those punished have been copied, but the two header pages have been and are reproduced here. Click on either image to view a larger version.

   The rules are worthwhile noting, especially the one concerning conduct to and from school. At John Ruskin, the head teachers during this period, Mr. Lowe until Easter 1973 and Mr. Patterson thereafter, never delegated the power to punish except on a few occasions when a deputy head is recorded, perhaps because the head teacher was away from school. The register stops in November 1978, possibly because physical punishment was forbidden in all schools at about this time. Chart

   The numbers punished increase up to the late 1950s, the peak year being 1956/57. This may be a reflection of the rise in total number of pupils in the post WW2 years, but the numbers certainly declined during the 1960s and 1970s, as can be seen from the chart right; click here to view a larger version. It is not believed that the other slight peaks and troughs are statistically significant. For instance, it was not uncommon for a number of pupils to be punished at one time for a group offence, thus distorting the figures.

There was a wide range of pupils' ages represented, even occasionally 1st years (11-12 years old) or Lower 6th (about 16 years old). It is not surprising to find that the median age is about 14 years. The researchers are not convinced that all punishments are necessarily recorded. Whilst events from 30 years ago have faded a little, some incidents and ex-pupils clear in the memory seem not to be listed. We would welcome further evidence about this from anybody consulting the punishment register at Croydon Borough Archives.

   However, the register seems to reflect life at the school in a reasonably accurate way. Much of it is mundane and petty, but with important social issues being raising, and last but not least, for ex-pupils at least, a good deal of humour, some of the black kind. Not all the punishment fitted the crime, but that is not unexpected.

   However, the brief comments of both Mr. Lowe and Mr. Patterson show a concern not to be unfair.

   The following are extracts from the misdemeanours recorded. They are in no particular order.

  • Muttering in class.

  • Climbing onto the roof.

  • Wearing wrong school uniform shoes without covering letter from parents.

  • Blowing motor horn in form room.

  • Cheating in exam.

  • Putting carbide in ink wells.

  • Playing with a spoon in the playground.

  • Forging a note.

  • Mob insolence in playground.

  • Chewing in class.

  • Playing with a ball of an unauthorised type.

  • Failing to wear school cap.

  • Snowballing.

  • Letting off stink bomb.

  • Lighting a ruler in Biology Laboratory.

  • Gambling in lavatory.

  • Making bogus phone calls to a master.

  • Possessing pornographic material.

  • Playing mouth organ during lesson.

  • Attempt at humour in essay for student master.

  • Smoking in Armoury.
       This was where live ammunition belonging to
       the school's Army Cadet Force was stored.

  • Wearing sunglasses.
       This was in 1968. Only 14 years later, a school
       photograph shows a very relaxed sixth form
       and a master wearing sunglasses.

  • Taking advantage of a master's blindness.
       Thought to be Mr. Peacock.

  • Bringing can of light ale into school on last day of term.

  • Interfering with boy on bus home after school.

  • Defacing portrait of John Ruskin in main lobby staircase.

After the school became co-educational in the early 1970s, some new offences are recorded.

  • Holding girl and pushing into rose bed.

  • Interfering with girl in Careers Room.

  • Taking frogs from pond and putting them down a girl's dress.

Smoking naturally occurs regularly, and one Lower Sixth former was taken to Mr. Lowe for the offence but refused punishment. Following temporary exclusion from school and an interview with the boy's parents, the punishment was accepted five days later. Not many refused the cane, and none escaped it eventually.

   It is interesting to note that some teachers who were at the school for many years never feature in the book, presumably either through distaste for the system or because they found alternative ways of control. It will not surprise ex-pupils to learn that amongst these teachers were Mr. A C Field, Mr. A L Murray, Mr. Crowe, Mr. Woodard and Mr. Pearman.

August 2003
Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, and Nick Goy, Cambridge.

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